Horse Health Glossary

Not sure what that veterinary word means? Look it up below!

Reprinted with permission from the University of California, Davis, The Book of Horses edited by Mordecai Siegal.

B LYMPHOCYTES (B CELLS):
Lymphocytes that upon proper stimulation by an antigen transform into plasma cells, which produce antibody to the antigen.
BABESIOSIS:
Any of several diseases caused by protozoa of the genus Babesia.
BACILLUS CALMETTE-GUERIN (BCG):
A live, avirulent bacterial cell preparation of the bovine tuberculosis organism, Mycobacterium bovis; useful for immunizing people against tuberculosis and for nonspecifically stimulating the immune system.
BACTEREMIA:
Presence of bacteria in the bloodstream.
BACTERIA (SINGULAR: BACTERIUM):
Minute, single-celled organisms ubiquitous in the environment; they contain a cell wall and a nucleus lacking a delimiting membrane, and divide by binary fission (the parental cell dividing into two approximately equal daughter cells).
BACTERIAL ENDOCARDITIS:
Inflammation of the lining of the heart, caused by bacterial infection of one or more heart valves.
BACTERIN:
Any killed bacterial vaccine.
BACTERIOLOGY:
The study of bacteria.
BALANITIS:
Inflammation of the penis.
BALANOPOSTHITIS:
Inflammation of the penis and prepuce.
BARIUM:
Metallic element commonly used as a contrast medium in radiology, particularly useful for examining disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. The barium is first swallowed by the patient and X-ray films are then taken. The general structure and movements of the gastrointestinal tract become visible owing to the inability of the X-ray beam to penetrate the contrast medium.
BASAL CELL LAYER:
The bottom cell layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin).
BASAL CELL TUMOR:
Benign tumor of basal cells, present in the basal cell layer of the epidermis (the outermost layer of the skin).
BASIDIOBOLOMYCOSIS:
A form of phycomycosis caused by Basidiobolus; occurs only rarely in the United States.
BASOPHIL:
A specialized white blood cell containing histamine and serotonin.
BASOPHILIC:
Staining dark blue.
BEAN:
Common term for urethral diverticular concretion.
BENCE-JONES PROTEINS:
Immunoglobulins or immunoglobulin fragments detected in blood and sometimes urine in patients with multiple myeloma.
BENIGN:
Not malignant; a tumor that is not cancerous (i.e., will not spread).
BETA BLOCKERS:
Drugs that block beta-adrenergic nerve impulses; important in treating tachycardias (abnormally rapid heart rates).
BETA CELLS:
Cells within the islets of Langerhans in the endocrine pancreas; they are the source of the hormone insulin.
BICIPITAL BURSITIS:
Inflammation of the bicipital bursa, located underneath the biceps tendon.
BIG HEAD:
Colloquial term for nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism.
BILATERAL:
Occurring on both sides.
BILATERALLY SYMMETRICAL:
Occurring simultaneously in approximately the same place on each side of the body.
BILE:
Fluid produced by the liver and deposited in the small intestine through the bile ducts, for the purpose of aiding the digestion of nutrients.
BILE ACIDS:
Steroid acids made from cholesterol, they are components of bile.
BILE DUCT:
Duct that discharges digestive fluids (bile) from the liver into the small intestine.
BILIRUBIN:
A yellow bile pigment, a breakdown product of recycled hemoglobin from red blood cells; the pigment causing jaundice.
BINARY FISSION:
Method of bacterial and protozoal multiplication wherein the parental cell divides into two approximately equal daughter cells.
BINOCULAR FIXATION:
The ability, particularly well developed in primates, to focus both eyes on a single object.
BIOLOGICAL RESPONSE MODIFIERS:
Substances such as the interferons and the interleukins that modify immune responses.
BIOLOGICAL VECTOR:
A vector in which a developmental stage of a particular parasite necessarily occurs.
BIOPSY:
The procedure by which a small sample of tissue is obtained for microscopic examination or culture, for the purpose of making a medical diagnosis.
BLASTOCYST:
An early stage of the developing embryo.
BLEPHARITIS:
Inflammatory disease of the eyelids.
BLEPHAROSPASM:
Spasm of the eyelid musculature, causing squinting.
BLIND SPOT:
That portion of the visual field behind the line of sight, that cannot be seen without changing eye and head position.
BLIND STAGGERS:
Common name for leukoencephalomalacia.
BLOAT:
Distension of the stomach.
BLOOD:
The fluid and its component cells, that circulate through the blood vessels and carry oxygen and other nutrients to body cells.
BLOOD PLASMA:
The liquid fraction of the blood (as opposed to blood cells).
BLOOD SMEAR:
A thin layer of blood smeared on a glass slide, stained, and viewed under a microscope; used to identify the maturity and type of blood cells present and to detect any abnormalities of those cells.
BLOOD UREA NITROGEN (BUN):
A measure of the nitrogenous waste products circulating in the blood; elevated levels are usually indicative of kidney malfunction.
BLOOD VESSELS:
Arteries, arterioles, veins, venules, capillaries: the conduits for the transport of blood throughout the body.
BLOOD-TYPING:
Laboratory procedure by which the red blood cells in a blood sample are identified as belonging to one of several blood groups.
BOG SPAVIN:
Chronic swelling of the upper joint of the hock; most commonly caused by osteochondritis dissecans (OCD).
BOIL:
A deep-seated bacterial infection of a hair follicle, producing a painful skin nodule containing pus; also called a furuncle.
BONE MARROW:
The soft inner tissue of bones, containing the blood-forming elements (precursor cells of the red and white blood cells and blood platelets) of the circulatory system.
BONE PLATING:
Method of fracture repair wherein the bone fragments are replaced in their original location and held in place with a perforated metal plate (bone plate), which is attached to the fragments with small screws.
BONE SPAVIN:
Degenerative arthritis of the lower joints of the hocks; the most common cause of hindlimb lameness in horses.
BONY ORBIT:
The bones of the skull that house and protect the eyeball.
BOOSTER:
Any dose of vaccine given subsequent to the initial dose, or subsequent to natural exposure, and designed to maintain the immune state or improve it.
BORBORYGMUS:
Gurgling noises caused by the rapid movement of gas through the intestines.
BORNA DISEASE:
Rare, highly fatal disease of horses and sheep in Germany and Switzerland; caused by an RNA virus that thus far has proved extremely difficult to characterize or classify.
BOTRYOMYCOSIS:
Type of wound infection caused by Staphylococcus aureus that occurs following trauma; common sites include the lower extremities and scrotum.
BOTS:
The larvae of hairy, beelike flies of the genus Gasterophilus; they are often found in the stomach of the horse.
BOTULINAL TOXIN:
The neurotoxin produced in botulism.
BOTULISM:
A rare disease caused by a neurotoxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum; it targets the neuromuscular nerve endings, producing a flaccid paralysis.
BRACHYGNATHISM:
Condition wherein the lower jaw is shorter than the upper jaw, placing the lower incisor teeth farther behind the upper incisor teeth.
BRACHYTHERAPY:
Radiation therapy technique wherein a radioactive device is inserted into a tumor and left in place for a period of time, during which the radiation slowly kills the tumor cells.
BRADYCARDIA:
Abnormally slow heart rate.
BRADYZOITES:
Dormant, encysted forms of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii.
BRAIN STEM:
Portion of the brain containing nerve centers that control the heart rate, respiratory rate and pattern, and level of consciousness.
BRAN DISEASE:
Generalized disorder caused primarily by a deficiency of calcium in the diet in the face of a phosphorus excess.
BREAKDOWN INJURY:
Rupture of the suspensory apparatus, i.e., loss of one or more supporting structures of the fetlock.
BREECH PRESENTATION:
Birth in which the fetus is delivered rear-end first.
BROKEN WIND:
Common name for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
BRONCHI:
The larger air passages leading from the trachea and branching within the lungs.
BRONCHIOLES:
Smaller branches of air passages leading from the bronchi to the alveoli (the small air sacs within the lungs, through the walls of which gas exchange between the blood and air occurs).
BRONCHOCONSTRICTION:
Narrowing of the larger airways.
BRONCHODILATORS:
Drugs that cause expansion of vital airways in the lungs, allowing for improved respiration.
BRONCHOPNEUMONIA:
Lung inflammation that is initiated within the bronchioles.
BRONCHOSCOPY:
Endoscopic examination of the trachea and bronchi.
BUCKED SHINS:
Painful condition caused by inflammation and hemorrhage over the front surface of the cannon bone; a common injury of 2- and 3-year-old race horses.
BUDDING:
Form of asexual reproduction in certain protozoa wherein a dividing cell divides into two unequal parts, the larger part being considered the parent and the smaller one the bud.
BULBOURETHRAL GLANDS:
Glands that produce the fluid portion of the semen.
BULLA:
A large vesicle.
BULLOUS PEMPHIGOID:
A very rare autoimmune skin disease characterized by the production of autoantibodies and the development of vesicles and bullae beneath the epidermis.
BUPHTHALMOS:
Gross enlargement of the eyeball.
BURSA:
Fluid-filled sac or saclike cavity, situated over pressure points in tissues where friction from repeated movement might develop.
BURSITIS:
Inflammation of a bursa.
BUTTRESS FOOT:
An advanced form of degenerative arthritis, caused by new bone growth in the region of the extensor process of the coffin bone.

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